Writing with Subtxt

Drafting a story with Subtxt is a four-step journey that transitions you from a rudimentary story idea to a substantial outline and/or treatment. The actual writing of your story doesn't occur in Subtxt—this step is carried out in your preferred writing application.

These four steps are conveniently displayed down the lefthand sidebar of your story (or in the dropdown menu on mobile devices). Though it's beneficial to follow a top-down method, you can also navigate between the steps during the development process.

The four steps are as follows:

  • Imagining
  • Illustrating
  • Plotting
  • Writing

Imagining is the stage where you establish the bedrock for what your story symbolizes. The sequence of events in a tale bears meaning, and therefore, to comprehend what to compose in each Act, you'll need to commence at this point. The Imagining section is designed to aid you in progressing from a basic Story Idea to a comprehensive Storyform via four main steps (Complete Story, Plot & Players, Character Arcs, and Storyform).

Illustrating is the phase where you animate the ostensibly cold and factual elements of your narrative Premise. At this juncture, you discover that even if a story holds the same significance, the storytelling layer (the Illustrations) can be manifested differently by different artists.

Plotting is the step where you organize your Illustrations of your conceptual narrative in a chronological order. Although the sequence of events holds meaning, there's flexibility to rearrange different Storybeats within an Act.

Writing is the stage where you carry out your final tidying up and preparations for drafting your story. The Writing section is the most distanced space in Subtxt from the Author and the nearest to the Audience, devoid of any preceding references to Premise, Storyform, or significance.

You'll notice that during this sequence, there is a transition of transmission from the Author to the Audience. The Author starts by Imagining what their story signifies, they Illustrate it utilizing their imagination, they Plot it in a manner that is surprising and engaging, and finally, they Write it all up into a single, smooth piece of art.

If you are familiar with the Dramatica theory of story, you will notice that these four steps correlate with the Four Expressions of a narrative. Imagining is Storyforming, Illustrating is Storyencoding, Plotting is Storyweaving, and Writing is StoryReception.


The Imagining phase is an essential step that navigates the writer from a fundamental Story Idea to a comprehensive Storyform in four key steps: "Complete Story", "Plot & Players", "Character Arcs", and "Storyform". These stages create a foundation for understanding a story from an objective point of view, distinguishing it from the traditional subjective perspective inherent to other interpretations of narrative structure.

  1. Complete Story: In this initial stage of Imagining, you start with your basic Story Idea. This is the broad sketch or the seed of your story. It's where you identify the overall premise, theme, and broad strokes of your narrative. This is where your story begins to take shape as a complete, coherent narrative that covers all the essential elements, ensuring that you have a holistic story that can resonate with your audience on a meaningful level.
  2. Plot & Players: After setting up the broad frame of your story, you dive into the specifics of your Plot and Players. Here, you explore the narrative's progression, the dynamics of the events, the main conflicts, and the characters who will be driving these events. Identifying the main actors in your narrative and outlining the critical events forms the framework of your story.
  3. Character Arcs: This step is where you flesh out your characters and develop their arcs. You delve into the emotional journeys your characters undertake, their development throughout the narrative, and how they evolve due to the story's events. By focusing on each character's trajectory, you ensure your characters are not merely placeholders but have depth, growth, and transformation that will engage your audience.
  4. Storyform: The final stage of the Imagining phase is establishing your Storyform. Here, you solidify the formal structure of your narrative, aligning all its elements into a cohesive, purposeful whole. This means integrating your Plot, Players, and Character Arcs into a unified framework that gives your story its thematic consistency and integrity.

The Imagining phase, while objective in nature, still respects the author's creativity. By identifying the Storyform, you set up the boundaries within which your creative expression can thrive, allowing you to manage the complexities of your narrative in a systematic way. Once you have identified your Storyform, you are then ready to proceed to the Illustrating phase where you can begin to flesh out the individual Throughlines of your Storyform in detail.


With Illustrating, it's advisable to adopt an approach that transitions from broad to detailed. The first four Storypoints listed here denote the general area of conflict for each of the Four Throughlines. The subsequent set of four Storypoints delineate the specific type of conflict occurring within these areas for each of the Four Throughlines.

The more detailed and precise your illustrations of these eight Storypoints are, the better the results you will yield from Subtxt AI.

Illustrating Your Story in Subtxt

You will also discover a set of additional Storypoints specific to each Throughline in the sections highlighted below the Illustrating section.


The Plotting section is divided into four Acts. Those conversant with a three-Act structure will observe that Acts Two and Three are intended to be the "middle" or Act "Two" of your story. Act Four is what many perceive as the third and final Act. The concept of a three Act structure is a blended and biased understanding of the story that can unfortunately lead to numerous storytelling mistakes.

Plotting Your Story in Subtxt

Storybeats must remain within the Act in which they were originally created in the Illustrating phase. However, within each Act, you have flexibility to weave Storybeats from one Throughline into another.


Finally, the Writing section in Subtxt is your last destination before downloading your outline and/or treatment. We've intentionally eliminated all instances of narrative structure, leaving only the Storytelling for you to focus on in this section.

Writing Your Story in Subtxt

This is how it should be: you aim to reach a point where you are no longer concerned about structure, but are solely focusing on the narrative and your Audience's experience.

This shift can be challenging for some writers to accomplish, especially considering the appeal of the Subtxt approach and the fun of developing a story with AI. Nevertheless, the reality remains that if you want to share this story with the world, you eventually need to abandon all thoughts of structure and dedicate all your attention to the unfolding story.

© 2023 Narrative First, Inc.